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Infidelity: Why Does It Happen?

Infidelity despite unapproving social norms has been found to occur at increasing rates especially in this season of COVID-19. Estimates show that pre-COVID-19 that 50% of husbands and 26% of wives had sought extramarital sex at some point during their marriage (Weeks, Gambescia, & Jenkins, 2003). Often when a couples comes to me for counseling, the number one complaint is that one of the partners has had an affair or inclination to have an affair. Why are affairs so prevalent in our society? There are a variety of reasons that someone may pursue an extramarital relationship. An affair can occur when one partner is dissatisfied with another and is not successful in attempts to resolve the conflict with their partner (Weeks, Gambescia, & Jenkins, 2003). In some cases, a spouse may pursue an extramarital relationship when their partner is avoidant of emotional or sexual intimacy (Weeks, Gambescia, & Jenkins, 2003). The opposite can also be seen when one partner is addicted to sex and seeks relationships outside the marital bond due to needing to fulfill this need (Weeks, Gambescia, & Jenkins, 2003). Empty nest affairs occur after children have left the home and emotional intimacy is not present in the marital relationship (Weeks, Gambescia, & Jenkins, 2003). Affairs can also occur to escape reality, when sex is the primary motivator, or the spouse wishes to hasten the end of the marriage (Weeks, Gambescia, & Jenkins, 2003). Regardless of the causes, the consequences of extramarital relationships are often the same: ambivalence and depression, inner and outer turmoil, jealousy, shock, anger, denial, traumatization, loss of illusions about the marriage, loss of belonging, feelings of rejection, self-doubt for the faithful spouse. For the unfaithful spouse, relief, mourning the ended affair, and lack of guilt and patient often occur (Weeks, Gambescia, & Jenkins, 2003).

Helping couples through infidelity is often a deeply personal process featuring improving commitment between spouses, dealing with feelings and problems within the marriage, and rebuilding trust. If you are experiencing problems with infidelity in your relationship, give Mountainview Counseling a call. We’re here to help!


Weeks, G. R., Gambescia, N., & Jenkins, R. E. (2003). Treating infidelity: Therapeutic dilemmas and effective strategies. New York, NY: W. W. Norton.